Today the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing adopted statewide rules protecting LGBTQ minors from conversion therapy, the harmful practice which seeks to change a young person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Utah Governor Gary Herbert directed the Division to develop the rules last year after proposed legislation to address the issue narrowly failed to pass the Utah Legislature.
Utah joins 18 other states, the District of Columbia, and more than 60 municipalities that have adopted similar protections.
Every leading medical and mental health organization in this country has rejected conversion therapy as ineffective and dangerous for minors.
“Once again, Utah has shown that LGBTQ advocates and political conservatives can work together to address the harms caused by discrimination and bias,” said Mathew Shurka, a conversion therapy survivor and Co-Founder of Born Perfect. “Utah’s rule protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy is a milestone in our nation’s growing recognition that LGBTQ youth are part of every community, and that every child is born perfect. We are grateful to Equality Utah for their unwavering commitment to this issue and to Governor Herbert for his leadership.”
“Utah’s emergence as the most conservative state to address this issue shows how rapidly attitudes toward LGBTQ youth are changing in every part of this country,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director Shannon Minter. “No matter what one’s political or religious affiliation may be, more and more people are recognizing that public officials have a responsibility to protect vulnerable youth from this life-threatening harm.”
To celebrate the adoption of the rule, conversion therapy survivors from around the state gathered at the state capitol in Salt Lake City with Equality Utah, the Utah Psychological Association, and State Representative Craig Hall – sponsor of H.B. 399 in 2019 that the new rules are nearly identical to as adopted.
Troy Williams, executive director of EQUALITY UTAH stated: “Every reputable science-based organization in the country recognizes that conversion therapy is a dangerous fraud. It exacerbates depression, anxiety, and suicide ideation. We are grateful to Governor Herbert and the Board of Psychologists for acting swiftly on behalf of LGBTQ youth.”
For more than 25 years, NCLR has been leading the fight against conversion therapy. Since 2014, NCLR’s Born Perfect Campaign has brought survivors and legal experts together to support legislation protecting LGBTQ youth from conversion therapy. Born Perfect has partnered with the Trevor Project 50 Bills 50 States campaign, the Human Rights Campaign, and Equality Utah, along with local advocates in support of these vital protections in Utah.
Momentum on this work continues to build, with a record-breaking number of states and localities taking action to protect youth in recent months, including North Carolina, Kansas City, Missouri, and Minneapolis, Minnesota. The adoption of these new rules in Utah comes just a day after the Virginia Senate approved S.B. 245, which would protect youth from conversion therapy in that state. The Virginia bill now heads to the Virginia House of Delegates.
According to an estimate from the Williams Institute from UCLA Law, more than 350,000 LGBTQ minors have been subjected to the dangerous practice of “Conversion Therapy,” which studies have linked to these youth being more than twice as likely to experience depression, and nearly three times more likely to attempt suicide.